June 14, 2005

The True Mark of a

The True Mark of a Cult

We have oft heard that the difference between a tried-and-true religion and an odious cult is around 50 years. That is to say, an upstart creed less than a half-decade old is immediately deemed a cult, whereas a resilient religion has stood the test of time.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” respectfully believe that this is a bunch of malarkey. As far as we’re concerned, the Moonies could be around for thousands of years, and could continue to run the Washington Times, and we’ll still call them a cult.

And, to be honest, we aren’t entirely sure where to place Mormonism, even though it’s been around for some time. This has nothing to do with any anti-Mormon sentiment; we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have nothing but respect for card-carrying Mormons.

We simply doubt that anything good has ever happened in upstate New York. As far as we can discern, upstate New York was a bigger Dutch mistake than Apartheid. And that, friends, is saying something.

So, you may or may not be saying to yourself, if chronological concerns are not key to the crack young staff’s conception of the cult-religion divide, what is? What separates an admirable faith from a zany cabal?

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are collectively glad that you asked. No, really: We’re very appreciative. You are always helping us out like that.

If you ask us—and even if you don’t ask us—we think that the difference between a cult and a religion is simple. Religions do not have jackets that attempt to advertise for their faiths; cults do.

For example, members of the oddly named Jews for Jesus group enjoy sporting varsity-esque coats with their faith’s name emblazoned on the back. This, we feel, is a level of schlocky advertising to which more dignified faiths would never stoop.

After all, dear reader, have you ever seen a fellow clad in a Members Only jacket with “Christianity” scrawled across the back? Or do Zoroastrians wear Zoroastrian jumpers? We think the answer is a definitive No.

And so, prospective founders of future world religions, let this be a lesson to you: You needn’t wait 50 years for your faith to make its way into the Promise Land of American Respectability. But you better not make any orders to textile manufacturers any time soon.

And this goes for you too, Bill O’Reilly. If you want to be remembered as the patron saint of No-Spinism, you are going to have to dump those wretched “O’Reilly Factor” jackets.

Posted at June 14, 2005 12:01 AM | TrackBack